Chennai: The 13,000-crore nuclear plant at Kudankulam in coastal Tamil Nadu is now filled with engineers, scientists and other workers. They report to work everyday even as thousands of villagers protest against the nuclear project, which, when completed, will be India's largest nuclear power-generating complex. Here are 10 big developments in this story:
After the Tamil Nadu government gave its go-ahead to the Indo-Russian nuclear project on March 19, after which work at the plant is on in full swing,
1. The Madras High Court today has refused to order the government to lift its ban on public gatherings in and around Radapuram Taluk, where the Kudankulam plant is located. Section 144, which prevents large groups from meeting in an area, was imposed last week by the District Collector.
2. The region has been tense since March 19, when the Tamil Nadu government said operations at the nuclear plant could begin. Activists and thousands of villagers have been holding large camps in protest at Idinthakarai adjoining Kudankulam.
3. They say they are not convinced that the plant is safe. They are also worried about ecological damage by radioactivity which would affect the livelihood of thousands of fishermen.
4. The leader of the protests is Dr SP Udhayakumar, who heads the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE). He said today that there is no question of ending the protest but added that "we are ready for talks. If we are considered people of this country, and if our ahimsa protest is respected, the government should talk to us." He has been on an indefinite fast since March 12 along with 14 supporters.
5. He says that the government has failed to provide any sort of disaster training to the villagers staying in and around the plant site. "People within 30km radius of the Kudankulam plant have not been given any disaster training...Without doing this, they cannot load the nuclear fuel...the Central Government and the State Government would be held liable for this criminal activity if they decide to load the fuel rods without preparing the people," Mr Udhayakumar had said. The government says that's not the case.
6. Work at the plant was suspended in September last year when the Tamil Nadu cabinet asked the Prime Minister to halt all operations till residents in the area were reassured that they were safe.
7. The Prime Minister sent a senior minister, V Narayanasamy, to meet with villagers; atomic and technical experts also audited the plant and reported it safe.
8. Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa last week cleared the project, a day after a crucial election in the area.
9. The plant, being built with the help of the Russians, will see two reactors being commissioned within months of each other. When it's completed, six reactors will generate unprecedented power supply for the state.
10. There is heavy security, including Rapid Action Force personnel, guarding the plant.